Oh! There's no place like home for the holidays,
'Cause no matter how far away you roam,
If you wanna be happy in a million ways,
For the holidays you can't beat home sweet home!
It's that time of year...turkey, pumpkin pie, potatoes, gravy. Grandma's cookbooks are brought out and the pages carefully turned and flour from last year, and years past, brushed off the pages. The house smells of home. A place we all long to be on the holidays. The place our memories are from.
It's been five years since we've been home for the holidays. How is that even possible? I have a huge family. And my grandparents are all still living, so everyone still congregates as one large family unit in one place. But, we can not go.
The holidays, very annoyingly, fall right in the start of respiratory season. That means for us, we stay put. No busy airports. No 12 hour car rides through Kansas. No rooms of family packed in as tight as we can squeeze. The family has grown so much through the years, with grandchildren marrying and having their own children.
There is always a tinge of guilt I feel from not going back to my family for the holidays. But, it is very quickly extinguished when I hear someone is sick...or one of us gets sick and we have all the comforts of our home at hand to make sure Max stays out of the hospital.
For us, home for the holidays has turned into medical home for the holidays. We need to stick close to where Max's doctors are. We need to stay away from the smooches and hugs of those who don't have to be careful of the germs they might have and pass along. We need to keep Max safe.
But, it still makes me sad, if I'm being honest. Terribly sad when the holidays come around, that Max doesn't get to experience the bustle of Grandma's kitchen, and the roaring laughter from the uncles. And doesn't get to lay on the floor with the cousins, playing with the toys his mom played with from the toy closet at Grandfather's. He doesn't know a nap on Grandpa's knee, being lulled asleep by his deep voice. He'll never know the joy of begging to see his great-uncle's horses, and if you're really lucky, getting a ride after dinner is over.
He will never know those things. And, while they still go on even without us there, he won't know to miss them.
We make our own traditions, and he does enjoy them. On Thanksgiving morning, we get up and watch some of the parade. We get around, and bundled up and go to the zoo. Because the zoo is open 365 days a year, and the snake house is very empty on a freezing Thanksgiving day, so Max gets to go inside without the crowds. We eat a light lunch of Middle Eastern food at our favorite park. Then we go home and prepare our Thanksgiving dinner to be shared with my sister and her family in the evening. We play games. We read Stone Soup. We laugh. We are Thankful for another year together. And while it is not the Thanksgiving of my youth, the one that makes me pine for home, it is still worthy of celebrating.